Beyond production: Brain responses during speech perception in adults who stutter

Tali Halag-Milo, Nadav Stoppelman, Vered Kronfeld-Duenias, Oren Civier, Ofer Amir, Ruth Ezrati-Vinacour, Michal Ben-Shachar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Developmental stuttering is a speech disorder that disrupts the ability to produce speech fluently. While stuttering is typically diagnosed based on one's behavior during speech production, some models suggest that it involves more central representations of language, and thus may affect language perception as well. Here we tested the hypothesis that developmental stuttering implicates neural systems involved in language perception, in a task that manipulates comprehensibility without an overt speech production component. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signals in adults who do and do not stutter, while they were engaged in an incidental speech perception task. We found that speech perception evokes stronger activation in adults who stutter (AWS) compared to controls, specifically in the right inferior frontal gyrus (RIFG) and in left Heschl's gyrus (LHG). Significant differences were additionally found in the lateralization of response in the inferior frontal cortex: AWS showed bilateral inferior frontal activity, while controls showed a left lateralized pattern of activation. These findings suggest that developmental stuttering is associated with an imbalanced neural network for speech processing, which is not limited to speech production, but also affects cortical responses during speech perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-338
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.


This study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation ( #513/11 awarded to M.B.-S. and O.A.), the European Commission (International reintegration grant #231029 to M.B.-S.), the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel , as well as by the I-CORE program of the planning and budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation (grant #51/11 ). We thank the Israeli Stuttering Association (AMBI) for their help in reaching potential participants and we thank all the participants who took part in this study. This study has been performed as part of Tali Halag-Milo's MA thesis submitted to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

FundersFunder number
National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel
Seventh Framework Programme231029
European Commission
Israel Science Foundation513/11
Israeli Centers for Research Excellence51/11


    • Functional lateralization
    • Persistent developmental stuttering
    • Signal correlated noise
    • Speech perception
    • fMRI


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